There are hundreds of nurse vacancies across Buckinghamshire hospitals, figures reveal, as the county’s trust pledges to tackle the growing staffing crisis.

In February this year there were 373 empty nurse positions across Buckinghamshire NHS Trust’s seven hospitals – a vacancy rate of 18.5 per cent - which sees a 2.3 per cent increase from March 2017.

The trust is also struggling to recruit students from its partner university, the University of Bedfordshire, as 11 of the 29 student nurses due to qualify this month declined an offer of employment.

National reports have blamed increasingly tough work conditions and the scrapping of bursary funding for students for the growing crisis, however Buck’s trust said it is still working to establish exactly why nurses are leaving.

Non-executive director at the trust, David Sines, said he feels “let down” by the lack of student recruitment and “something radical” needs to be done to increase staffing at a meeting of the Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust board meeting today (March 28).

He said: “One of our biggest challenges, our biggest risks now, is the inability to recruit student nurses.

“We are now at a point, and I have no hesitation in saying it, we have been let down very significantly.

“On the last two intakes, which were in September, and last year in February, we are probably averaging 35 per cent of the total we expected.

“That is highly significant, that pulls through over a three year period of training. If that continues there’s no reason to suggest that trend wouldn’t continue. We will be significantly short of our supply.”

Students opting to choose work in the north of Bucks or nearer their hometowns both contribute to the staffing struggles, according to Mr Sines.

He added that the trust will continue to recruit “exceptional” nurses from overseas, however that method cannot be relied on.

He said: “We are not letting go of our overseas recruitment, but we can’t rely on it. It would be wrong to assume that is our overall strategy.

“We have to do something radical. You will know midwifery has already done it, there has been a national campaign to increase midwifery.

“We don’t actually need that national campaign. We could agree to commission another 100 students a year if we have the right partnerships with our universities. There are things we can do, and we are going to be doing that.”